Perhaps the ultimate exercise in personal branding, naming a baby can cause endless consternation for expectant parents. Some keep prospective names to themselves, lest friends and family barrage them with unsolicited opinions: “Really?! Agatha. Huh.“ Others turn to the experts—and pay up.
According to Bloomberg, stressed-out parents in the US and Europe are consulting branding experts-turned-baby-namers to help choose names that will seal their kids’ fates as successful, popular, culturally appropriate humans—and guarantee they won’t be the seventh Sarah in their class. (Or, for that matter, Elsa, Juno, or Anakin.)
One Swiss branding firm charges around $29,000, which includes researching a name’s history to ensure it is free of what agency head Marc Hauser called “an aggravating past.” Hauser told Bloomberg his own name, Marc, would be eliminated due to its connection to Mars, the Roman god of war (although Hauser seems to be doing just fine in life with his given moniker).
Thriftier parents could pay Sherri Suzanne at New York’s My Name for Life several hundred dollars for an opinion based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. Or, they could pick up The Baby Name Report Card: Beneficial and Harmful Baby Names, a book by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, which evaluates names on scales such as “popular-fun” and “ethical-caring.” Websites such as Nameberry, where recent features have included “Girlish Baby Names with Boyish Nicknames” and “Romantic Italian Baby Names,” present another option.
Mehrabian heartily endorsed hiring a baby brander.
“Believe me, you don’t want to name a child with an unattractive name and have them go through life and suffer the consequences,” he told Bloomberg. “If you are getting somebody who really knows the evidence, then I’ll say it’s worth every penny, whether its $500 or $5,000.”
Then again, your in-laws will probably be happy to provide you with loads of advice for free.